I just received another email from another EHR Vendor pandering to physicians to implement their technology so that the physician so they can access some usability incentive to use technology that they should already be using. Here is the offending language:
“State Medicaid providers across the country have an unprecedented opportunity to collect over $21,000 in EHR incentives in the last few weeks of 2011. If you’re already using Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxx, there are a few easy steps you can take to earn your incentive.“
This is just so wrong on so many levels to me. First, I find it completely incongruous that we have to incent physicians to use a simple tool that is designed to make their life easier, their practice more efficient, and their care more effective. I can’t recall, but I didn’t see the need to incent the stethoscope, antibiotics, or any other health innovations.
Second, the offer itself is just dripping with the grease and slime of “taking” something “while the getting is good”. Does anyone care that this “stimulus” money is subject to the grossest abuses? That it will be misapplied? That most of it is being doled out to people who have already implemented these technologies and now are getting a little gloss on top? Does anyone care that our country is broke and this is just another program that is unsustainable, unnecessary, and incapable of producing its intended results. Is there any evidence that this is having an impact?
And third, perhaps most fundamentally, we are incenting the wrong thing. The EHR is not the end all be all technology to implement into practices across the country. One of the most thoughtful newer EHR companies puts this entire notion into perspective. ClearPractice, a subsidiary of Essence Health Group, list out 22 capabilities that are required to achieve the triple aim of lower costs, increased quality, and improved outcomes. The EHR is only ONE aspect of the requirements to achieve this. Double take on that – only One of Twenty Two core capabilities – less than 5%. That is the point.
I personally believe that the EHR, while a useful tool, is a commodity being overtaken by an entirely new range of capabilities, integration, and technologies that are allowing innovators to help make health a more seamless and less disruptive part of their life. I am thinking about data aggregation and visualization like Mint.com (showing all your spend, claims, and health planning) real life timeline and interactions (complete with pictures, images, labs, results, etc) in a Facebook Timeline motiff, and making it fun and engaging by making the ultimate social experience (your health and that of those you love) much more social and interactive regarding a much more comprehensive view of what “health” actually is.
So EHR, thank you for your venerable service in helping to establishing a foundation of health. Now, rest in peace.
Scott Shreeve is a physician and entrepreneur based in Laguna Beach, California. After a long career in medicine, Scott founded the open source electronic medical record company MedSphere. He blogs regularly at CrossOver Health, where this post first appeared.